This striking new collection of songs pulls together Beth’s many musical influences, including folk, country, pop, and even jazz. This eclectic mix is streamlined and focused thanks to a great band, including members from Peter Gabriel and Elton John’s band, plus backing vocals from ... more
Beth Nielsen Chapman’s Compass release "Look" is the latest milestone in the amazing life of this celebrated American singer/songwriter.
Chapman’s musical eclecticism found its roots in her childhood. The middle child of five in an Air Force family, she moved six times before she reached adolescence, which exposed her to many cultural and musical influences. Chapman developed her love of great songs by soaking up the sounds of Gershwin and Cole Porter, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Motown, Jimmy Webb, Rogers and Hammerstein, and Ella Fitzgerald, to name a few. In the early days she honed her skills as a performer in small clubs throughout Alabama and the South, where her family finally settled.
Renowned for her pure, powerful songwriting and clear voice, Beth Nielsen Chapman has become one of the most distinctive portrayers of resilience and human vulnerability with an astoundingly diverse array of songwriting credits. She has penned hits and written songs for some very prominent artists whose styles span country, pop, folk, blues and jazz, such as Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Neil Diamond, Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Bette Midler, Andy Bey, and Ute Lempter. She also co-wrote the Grammy-nominated, ground breaking smash for Faith Hill, "This Kiss", (Chapman/Roboff/Lerner). Chapman’s songs have been featured on ER, Melrose Place and Dawson’s Creek, and her movie credits include "The Prince of Egypt", "Calendar Girls", "Message In A Bottle", "The Rookie", "Where The Heart Is" and "Practical Magic".
But it is the music she writes and records for herself that has quietly found a deep connection to so many people healing through life’s journeys of love and loss. Never pandering, her songs have a way of expressing hope and grace in the face of grief. She lived through the experience of losing her husband to cancer in 1994, and after that she released the groundbreaking "Sand & Water" (which Rodney Crowell co-produced). Elton John performed the album’s title track, Chapman’s public response to her private tragedy, in tribute to Princess Diana on his 1997 US tour.
Incredibly, just prior to her next release "Deeper Still, (voted "Album of the Year" by BBC2’s Terry Wogan) Chapman was faced with her own diagnosis of breast cancer in August 2000. After a year of treatment, she rebounded fully and now provides regular public service announcements during her concerts, stressing the importance of early detection and encouraging women to be vigilant in caring for their health.
In 2004, Chapman surprised her fans with "Hymns", a collection of centuries-old Latin liturgical pieces, released in November on BNC Records/Emergent. Chapman, who grew up Catholic, noticed these beautiful hymns from her childhood were very hard to find, so for her parents and for the sake of hearing them again, she recorded them with an unusual intimacy, including both her son and her father as singers, adding only the sparest of instrumental accompaniment. This album has been one of her most popular to date, reaching #3 on Amazon.com following an interview on NPR’s "All Things Considered". Garnering extensive press, it struck a chord with many people of all walks of faith, resulting in a deluge of letters and emails, many describing a deep sense of peace that comes over them when listening to the tones and harmonies.
On her latest offering "Look" (co-produced with the legendary Peter Collins), Chapman continues to draw inspiration from a place of her own deep healing and to offer her audience a path to comfort, healing and finding the way back to joy, and the result is an album in an album that showcases her at her heartfelt best. From the rootsy pulse of the opening track "Trying To Love You" (Chapman/Lloyd), through the aching beauty of "Touch My Heart" (Chapman/Rollings), to the victoriously infectious beat of "Free" (Chapman/Roboff), this collection strikes a deep universal chord once again, covering every page in the book of love, each song a different chapter on the heartbreak, euphoria, roadblocks and breakthroughs found along the way.
The stunning title track, written with the legendary Andy Bey (who’s latest recording was the Grammy-nominated 2004 Jazz Vocal Album of the Year), the soulful Michael McDonald duet "Right Back into the Feeling" (Chapman/Roboff), and the seamless country classic "Time Won’t Tell" written with Harlan Howard ("Heartaches By The Number", "I Fall To Pieces"), are threaded together beautifully by Chapman’s gorgeous vocals and passion for great songwriting.
Whether from the romantic re-opening of a heart, long closed by sadness, ("Look"), or from the struggle for forgiveness between a mother and a child ("Who We Are"), Chapman’s writing always comes back around to her commitment to express herself from her deepest emotional truth. It is this that makes her music healing and has pulled her increasingly towards teaching and lecturing, often conducting workshops on harvesting creativity, songwriting, navigating the spiral of grief, and healing through art, using her songs to reach across emotional blocks and beyond the place where words leave off.
"Look" marks a new turning point in Chapman’s life and explores the full scope of her experience with some of her best songs yet, reaching through, as always, from the heart and soul.